We are all striving for happiness; so much so that it seems society puts this pressure on us to find and embody it. We are bombarded with these images of what a happy life looks like that makes us ask: are we failing at happiness? Well, what if we tell you that we can get past that and go beyond happiness? In today’s episode, Whitney Lauritsen interviews Dr. Jennifer Guttman who, with her book, Beyond Happiness: The 6 Secrets of Lifetime Satisfaction, shares mindset shifts and tools for a satisfied life. Embark on a satisfaction revolution as we dive into the nuanced realm of contentment versus happiness. Explore the intricacies of dopamine, sustainable satisfaction, and identifying what lies within your control.
Dr. Gutman takes us into a world of beneficial conversations, dissecting what’s absent in social media, and discovering the middle path between extremes. She helps us break free from addictive patterns, provides recommendations for achieving social media balance, and explores the contrasting realms of anxiety and calm. Uncover the satisfying allure of certain dopamine hits and the benefits of experiences that have a defined end. We then journey into the realms of self-image, confidence, and the pitfalls of people-pleasing and combatting that.
Also, we explore the dynamics of ambition, the delicate balance between comfort zones and discomfort, and the secrets to sleep satisfaction through sleep hygiene tips and natural remedies like melatonin. Finally, gain insights into balancing social media in both personal and professional spheres. Join us on this holistic exploration of satisfaction, offering practical tips and transformative perspectives for a more fulfilled life.
Listen to the podcast here
Beyond Happiness: Mindset Shifts And Tools For A Satisfied Life With Dr. Jennifer Guttman
This subject is going to focus on something that I don’t feel like I’ve spent as much time speaking about as I would like to have. It’s interesting how sometimes a guest that comes on the show draws out things about myself that maybe I haven’t put the spotlight on. With Dr. Jennifer, in our pre-conversation before recording, I asked her more about this book that she wrote about satisfaction and shared how I feel like it’s helpful for us to frame things like happiness around satisfaction.
As Dr. Jennifer said, society instills in us that being happy is binary, but happiness isn’t a mindset. It’s a feeling. Like any other emotion, it comes and goes. When you focus on your enduring mindset, it can become less transient. Through these philosophies of satisfaction that we’re going to explore in this episode, I started thinking about what satisfaction means to me. It reminded me of how more so in the past, I often have described things as satisfying.
I’ve had a few notable times where somebody has said to me, “I have never thought to describe something as satisfying.” That’s interesting. Maybe this ties into your work, Dr. Jennifer, of shifting our mindset to satisfaction. I’m curious. Do people have a similar reaction to you when you talk about satisfaction versus talking about happiness, for example?
Yes, they do. The reason that I want to start what I would call a satisfaction revolution is because so many people feel like they’re failing at being happy, but you can’t fail at an emotion. I say to people, “Let’s try putting a moratorium on the word happy. Instead of feeling like you’re supposed to end your day and reflect on it and ask yourself, “Was I happy today?” ask yourself, “Was I satisfied today?” Instead of when you start your day saying to yourself, “I’m going to have a happy day,” say to yourself, “I’m going to try to have a satisfying or contented day.”You can't fail at a feeling. Click To Tweet
When I say that to people, you can see their brains changing their perspective on how they approach their day and also how they reflect on their day. It creates an entirely different mindset about how they feel about themselves, gratitude, balance, and so much about their perspective on their lives. It’s amazing how much our brains listen to the vernacular that we use and how we talk about everything that we’re doing. If you replace the word satisfaction instead of happiness, then that shift alone changes how somebody is going to approach their day. Changing the word can make such a big difference.
I’d love to dig into that more and clarify the difference between happiness and satisfaction. I imagine that there’s a great amount of overlap, but perhaps hearing your definition of happiness and satisfaction just to be clear when somebody is sitting here with that reframe.
Happiness is dependent on something happening in the outside world. Happiness is a dopamine hit. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our brain. You can think of happiness as getting that sought-after piece of clothing, getting a text from somebody that you weren’t expecting, or if you see the first snowfall. In those moments, you get this rush of a feeling of excitement or happiness. That feeling is fleeting. It passes and then you go back to some kind of stasis. That feeling of happiness is not within your control. In that way, it’s not sustainable. You feel happy temporarily, but then you’re chasing a fleeting feeling.
Satisfaction is different. Satisfaction is that feeling that you get at the end of a productive day or how you feel when you’re reading a good book or when you’ve cleaned out your email inbox. That can be very satisfying. Do you know sometimes you get the bubble wrap in a box and people like to snap on the bubble wrap? I would consider that something that a lot of people find satisfying. That’s not making anybody happy, but it feels satisfying.
Satisfaction is something that can bring you a feeling of contentment or a feeling of peace. Satisfaction with the right technique is something that is within your control. In that way, it’s sustainable. This is why I want to turn around the conversation so that people are striving for something achievable, and so that they can move beyond happiness to the next frontier, which is satisfaction.
It feels like such important work because it seems like maybe we have a lack of satisfaction. I’m curious about your research. Statistically, is that true? Is the majority of the population unsatisfied? What are the numbers showing about satisfaction?
The numbers are showing that people don’t feel very satisfied. I can’t remember the exact statistic, but if you did a survey, something like 27% of people feel very satisfied. Don’t quote me on that. I don’t know if that’s the exact number, but something like 27% of people feel satisfied. Part of that is because we don’t have the tools that will help us be more satisfied.
People are over-focusing on other things. They don’t recognize that if you have the tools, you can help yourself personally be more satisfied, which is what I’m offering in my book. These are the tools that can help you on a journey to satisfaction. All of these tools, you can do on your own by changing your mindset about your life.
Every single one of the things that I teach people requires a mental shift or a cognitive shift because we’re brought up to think about each one of them in a different way than what I’m asking you to do. This is why I believe the number is something as low as 27%, and why people change their behavior to be more in line with the techniques that I’m teaching.
I’ve had people say, “It is amazing how much better I feel. I didn’t realize I was going to feel so much better using these techniques. I’m feeling so much better about all the things in my life.” My publisher was so funny. He said, “I’ve been having such bad days. I feel like every time I have a bad day, I open up your book, read a little bit about it, and then it’s amazing how much better my day is.”
I’m very curious to hear about the tools. I also feel like this is a good place to start. In your opinion, why are we in a place with such low levels of satisfaction? Are there techniques that aren’t working? How can we shift from something that’s not serving us to something that is?
The levels of satisfaction are low for two reasons. One, we’re over-focused on happiness. We’re constantly trying to chase this dopamine fix. You see it in social media. People are obsessed with romanticizing social media. People are like, “How do I get to be like that?” Except social media is an aberration. People are making movies out of static posts.
People see the static post and then they imagine what happened before and after the post. They think all of these glamorous things happened before. They didn’t realize that maybe the baby was crying. Maybe there was a huge argument before or after. They’re glamorizing it and then deciding that all of those people are so happy or all of those people know how to live a happy life. That’s not accurate. All that you’re seeing is a picture. Your brain is filling in all of the gaps with all of these beautiful images about what you wish life could be like in a way that doesn’t exist. Social media is propaganda.
One of the reasons is that we are chasing something that doesn’t exist. Social media has made that much worse. The other reason that people are struggling with satisfaction is because they don’t have the tools. They’re not aware of how to achieve satisfaction because it’s not something that we talk about. It’s not that people are learning in school or learning in their homes to be satisfied.
Somebody asked me on a podcast once. We were talking about happiness versus satisfaction. He said to me, “I say to my kids, ‘I hope you’re happy.’” One of the things that I said to him was, “That’s okay except that the message they’re receiving is that, ‘I hope you’re not unhappy.’” That’s not related to satisfaction. That puts pressure on a person to feel like if they’re not supposed to be unhappy, then they must be happy. That means that if they’re not happy, then they’re failing at happiness.
As opposed to that, if you were to say to a child, “I hope you have a satisfying day,” “I hope you’re satisfied,” or “I hope you’re content,” then what they feel like they’re striving for is something in the range of contentment and satisfaction. They then would try to figure out, “What are the means to achieve that?” They’re not even trying to figure out what the means are to achieve that because we don’t ever talk about that.
I’m so glad you’re talking about it because this feels so important. There is so much conversation about mental health, but this side of things does not seem to come up often enough. Oftentimes, it’s the cultural side of it. You mentioned social media, which is a big part of our culture. We have a lot of standards and societal elements that impact how we have conversations with one another and how we relate the questions we ask. This is one of my favorite parts of doing a podcast. It is digging into different ways of thinking and different ways of doing things.
As you’re speaking, a few things are coming up. There’s a big tie between pressure and social media because there’s the pressure to live a life based on how other people are living. With social media, when you’re talking about the propaganda side of things, there’s this idea of how you present your life and what that represents about yourself.
The challenge is that if everybody is trying to represent themselves as happy or perhaps satisfied, they aren’t going to show the unhappy moments necessarily unless it somehow benefits them. They are waves of the trend that sometimes, people want to show themselves as unhappy because that ties into what the culture is looking for at that time. Even that’s a pressure of itself. The times that we share how depressed we are and how anxious we are, sometimes I feel like there’s an advantage to doing that. The struggle is authentic and is focusing so much on our unhappiness, which is creating more unhappiness.
That’s true. You could see the balance of extremes on social media. Everything is about extremes. Either people are showing how happy they are or they are showing themselves in the depths of depression, or they are showing themselves feeling suicidal, or they are showing themselves with an extreme eating disorder. Those things are very serious. It’s important that we have conversations around these things to make sure that there’s no shame around them and to make sure people are educated around them. These are not glamorous things. These are very serious mental health issues.Social media is an admiration. Click To Tweet
What is missing from social media is what contentment looks like. What does the middle path look like? What it’s all about is extremes. It’s about, “This is what the highs look like. This is what the lows look like,” but nobody is talking about what the center looks like. Nobody is talking about what the balance looks like or what the middle path looks like.
The people’s interpretation is the center or balance must be boring, but that’s not true. Balance is not boring at all. Balance or stasis is quite fulfilling. Contentment or peace feels very good. The lack of modulation doesn’t necessarily feel great all the time. It’s lack of modulation. The center sometimes can feel peaceful. When you’re in a bubble bath feeling at peace, that doesn’t feel bad or boring. When you’re reading a book curled up on your sofa, that doesn’t feel bad or boring. If you’re sitting in front of a fireplace, that doesn’t feel bad or boring. None of those things are dopamine-hitting feelings where you are saying, “I’m so happy right now.”Nobody is talking about what balance looks like because they think it's boring. Click To Tweet
By that same token, if you’re doing any of those things and then reflecting on your day and somebody were to say, “Are you happy right now?” or “Are you happy?” people get confused by the question. They don’t know how they’re supposed to respond to, “Are you happy?” “Am I happy in this moment? Am I happy today? I don’t even know what that question means because happiness is so fleeting.” If somebody were to say to them at the end of the day, “Did you have a satisfying day?” that’s a different question to ask.
Asking the right questions is so powerful. I’m curious about your perspective on these extremes. Extremes, meaning the extreme levels of happiness or the dopamine spikes. Many people understand dopamine on a level that they probably didn’t ten-plus years ago. It’s part of the cultural conversation. A lot of people have more awareness, whether that’s a dopamine hit from something you’re consuming, some action that you’re taking, or something out of your control that’s exciting and you weren’t expecting. You’re chasing the dopamine. There is a level of awareness around it, but like social media, there can be awareness and the concept can make sense to people. Yet, a lot of people seem to struggle to step away from it.
I’m curious about your tips. You know that social media is not real. You know that what you’re seeing is somebody’s highlight reels or the worst part of someone’s day. You might know that social media is used as a way to get something from you, whether it’s money or attention. A lot of people understand that but they still struggle to step away from social media just like they might struggle to step away from consuming something that makes them feel good temporarily but has long-term consequences. How do you help someone navigate that difference between knowing something as a concept and engaging in more positive behavior and mindset shifts?
Dopamine is addictive. People would have a hard time breaking any pattern that is addictive. We’re drawn to social media because it feels good. Dopamine feels good. Getting a dopamine hit feels good. That’s why a lot happens with different kinds of social media. People talk about clickbait. It’s clickbait because you click on something and then you get a dopamine hit.
What I usually recommend to people is that they need to take a social media break or do a social media cleanse. It’s the easiest way to move away from social media to get some balance back in your brain. The best way to do that is to make a deal with yourself or some deal that you feel like you can follow through on, whether that’s, “I’m going to take a social media break for 1 day, 3 days, 5 days,” or whatever you feel that you can commit to. You then evaluate, “How is my mood during that period of time?” If it was 1 day or if it was 3 days, “Was I less anxious? Did I feel more balanced? Did I feel calmer? Did I sleep better?”
What kinds of questions should you ask yourself about what was a change or not in your mood? Typically, my clients would say that they notice a change in how they’re doing when they take this break from social media. When you get to the end of the time period that you took this moratorium from social media, ask yourself if you want to add back the social media or whether you want to challenge yourself to go a little bit longer.
Whatever your decision is, when you add back the social media, there are a lot of good apps that give you time periods that you can be on social media so you can monitor yourself. When you add it back, it’s much easier to add it back with timers than to start by adding timers instead of starting by taking it away altogether. When you add it back, add it back with the timers because you’ve already shown your brain that you do pretty well without it. Add it back with timers. That can be very helpful.
It’s important when you take a social media break to put something on your social media telling people you’re taking a break so that you don’t worry that people are going to wonder why all of a sudden you’re absent from social media. I usually recommend that. People are more open to taking breaks from social media because they recognize that it can have some damaging effects.
I’ve spoken many times in 2023 about my own break, which has been very extensive at the end of 2022. I was curious about what that would look like for me, given that it wasn’t just my personal life but so much of my career was also professionally very tied to social media. Yet, I had this deep feeling that I couldn’t ignore anymore. I needed to take some time away and examine it.
It was interesting because it showed up as an addiction. Within the first few days of not using an app like TikTok, which is especially stimulating, I felt like I was going through withdrawal. I started to try to find a gap, like what could fill in the gap that that left behind. Anytime I wanted some sort of dopamine hit, that’s when I would use an app like TikTok. I had to consciously start to list out other things to do so that I wouldn’t go back to it. That period of “What do I do now?” is hard.
I recognized through that experience that if somebody doesn’t have a tool, a framework, and actual guidance around something like this, you’re going to go back to it because your brain has been trained to associate those things together. Am I getting that psychology right? How do you help people through those periods of feeling so on their own and dependent, being torn between not wanting to do something and not knowing what to do instead?
That’s right. People are caught not knowing what to replace their dependence on the phone or social media with. It is important to find something else that also releases dopamine, as well as something else that’s a distraction. I usually recommend both things that give a dopamine hit and things that could be used as a distraction.
There are some things that are very good at giving dopamine hits. Exercise is good. Comedy is good. I usually recommend that if people have standup comics that they like to watch, watch standup comics. You can watch also sitcoms, but sometimes, because of the frequency of the jokes, standup comics can be better than watching a sitcom. I tend to recommend watching standup comics.
Also, music. I usually also recommend watching a concert for the same reason. A concert can get the adrenaline and dopamine up higher than if you are listening to an album where some of the songs are mellower than other songs. If you’re watching a concert, they’re also usually high energy, and that gets the dopamine up. I usually recommend those three things for dopamine.
I then suggest to people that they balance it with working hard to find hobbies as distractions. When you’re trying to figure out what hobbies might help as distractions, it’s a good thing to go back to when you were a child in school. What things did you like? Was it the extra classes that they would give you? Did you like arts and crafts, sports, or cooking? What were the things that you liked to do? If you like ceramics, go do ceramics. If you like painting, paint. If you like sports, play tennis, golf, or whatever you liked to do when you were in school.
Go back to your roots and start to do an examination of what you liked when you were a child, and see if you can begin to do some of those hobbies again as a distraction. I’ve had a lot of clients that have a lot of success with that. I have clients that are playing volleyball. I have some that are crocheting and some that are doing Legos. I have clients doing lots of interesting things like playing guitar or teaching themselves a language. A combination of using hobbies with things that boost your dopamine is very important.
Where is the line between adding in too much dopamine? Going back to what you were saying earlier about satisfaction, is there a point at which you’re doing too many things that create dopamine and that detract from your satisfaction?
That can detract from your satisfaction if you’re doing things on the phone, like constantly being on the phone with clickbait. I typically ask my clients if they look at their phone, how many hours they’ve been on the phone. It interferes with your ability to get mastery in other areas of your life.
The benefit of watching a standup comic or watching a concert is they end. There’s a beginning and an end, and it’s over. I haven’t had a client yet that sits watching standup comic after standup comic, or concert after concert. It’s the same thing with exercise. People go to the gym to workout for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or 45 minutes and it’s over. In that way, it’s self-limiting. That helps. We’re not talking about the constant need for dopamine.
Once you’re done with that, then you can have mastery experiences. When you add in the hobbies, because hobbies are something that is part and parcel of what my techniques are, then you have mastery experiences in there. It adds to feelings of confidence and self-respect. Those things help with lifetime satisfaction. When you can balance the two, then the activities that you’re using for distraction end up also adding to lifetime satisfaction.
You touched upon something there, which is feeling satisfied with yourself. Something that I had read maybe through social media or a bio was that the majority of people do not have an inherent belief in their likability or lovability. That stuck with me because I certainly noticed this in my work in the mental health space. I noticed this in personal conversations and professionally. There’s a lot of self-deprecating focus. Sometimes, I don’t know. Is self-deprecating a way for people to bond?
We go back to somebody not always saying that they’re happy. Instead, they might be complaining about what they don’t like about themselves, whether it’s their body or never feeling satisfied in their career and all that. I’m curious about that intersection with satisfaction. If somebody doesn’t like themselves, they don’t love themselves, or they don’t perceive themselves as likable or lovable, how do they get to a place of satisfaction?
The question that you’re bringing up is twofold. When people are talking about their self-image and needing support around their self-image, it’s about struggling with validation, reinforcement, and reassurance. Some of it is about that. That eventually needs to come from inside. Most people could get 100 million compliments about any part of their being and it would not be enough. They need 100 million more.
Unless they can start to feel good from the inside out, no matter how many compliments they get, validation, and reassurance, it’s never going to be that final compliment that’s going to make a difference in terms of their self-image. It has to come from inside them. That is part of what I talk about in my book. You have to gain these feelings of self-confidence from the inside out. Seeking them from the outside is not going to work.
The feelings of inherent lovability are slightly different than that. One part is that looking for validation and reassurance is not going to get you what you’re looking for. The second part is when I ask people, “Do you feel inherently lovable?” and most people say no. Most people would say that they have people-pleasing tendencies. They feel like they secure relationships and feelings of indispensability or make sure that they aren’t going to be abandoned in a relationship by sub-serving some of their needs to somebody else. They like to do acts of service.
Because they say yes to things that sometimes they would want to say no to, they believe that people are hanging around them because of the acts of service they provide, not because of the person that they are. What that does backhandedly is that interferes with their belief in their inherent lovability. They’re like, “All of these people would go away if I didn’t do these things for them. I would be left with no one.”
Until you peel away all of that people-pleasing and only do the things that feel authentic to you and that you want to say yes to, you realize that everybody is still around because everybody loves you for you, which is okay. You can love yourself for you too. That’s when people start to believe, “I am lovable. I am likable. It’s not that people just want me to be around because I’m going to run this errand for them, solve this problem for them, or rush to rescue them.”
That resonates with me on a deep level that I want to examine more after this conversation. I’ve certainly identified with the people-pleasing. It’s something that I try to check in with myself about because I don’t want it to have that ripple effect that you’re describing. It’s hard to untether ourselves. There are so many layers to it. Going back to the cultural side of things, how we’re conditioned, the messages we’re hearing, our deep desires to be loved and to survive, and all these basic human needs, it can be extremely confusing. That leads me to another question for you.
Sometimes, in the professional space, especially in entrepreneurship, there’ll be this ethos of, “You should never be satisfied. If you’re satisfied, then you might become too stagnant and you won’t grow.” I’m curious about your thoughts on that. The show often focuses on getting outside of your comfort zone. Is there a point in which being satisfied is detrimental, or is that a saying that’s gone around in some hustle-focused spaces like, “You always have to keep striving in order to make the most out of your life?”
I’m very focused on language because our brains are always listening. I would not say that satisfaction interferes with the hustle. I would not say that satisfaction interferes with entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur myself and a person who focuses on satisfaction, I can say that I am very satisfied and that has not interfered at all with my ambition.
What does interfere with ambition and hustle, and also is part of my book, is complacency. That is a critical piece. When people allow themselves to become complacent and become too comfortable doing what they’re doing, stop challenging themselves, stop living on the precipice of their discomfort, and stop pushing themselves, then it is at that point that they become dissatisfied.
It is within that dissatisfaction because they’re not challenging their competency anymore, things start to fall apart. Complacency leads to dissatisfaction. It is within all of that where you see the entrepreneurship fall apart, the hustle falls apart, and it’s all falling apart. That’s the language that goes along with that as opposed to satisfaction.
I appreciate your dedication to language because I certainly feel triggered when people use certain statements. One that I’ve detested for a long time is busy. It feels like a filler word. It feels like it has lost a lot of meaning. Even authenticity. There are words and phrases that have become very trendy. Everybody starts saying them, then they start losing their impact and their meaning. It can be confusing though if we hear something repeated over and over again. Our brains are always listening so our brains are picking up on these things. Even if on a certain level, we can critically think, “This doesn’t make sense. I don’t believe it,” there might be part of us deep down inside that still believes it or still is confused by it.
The fact that you clarify the language, give options, and specify what certain things mean, I find that extremely helpful. One area that I also noticed people feeling very confused by and also maybe becoming complacent in is sleep. Statistically too, I wouldn’t know off the top of my head but I have done a number of episodes on sleep. I brought on somebody who works in the sleep field as a journalist to talk about this.
The statistics around how many people struggle with sleep are alarming. I feel like it’s around 80% of people having some sort of a challenge with sleep, whether that’s they’re not getting enough sleep, they can’t fall asleep, they can’t stay asleep, or their clock feels not in harmony with what they want. Sleep is such a big challenge. It was summarized. It was maybe not your exact words but in a press release for coming on the show. It’s about how people can do everything right throughout the course of the day, practicing all these healthy habits, going to bed early, and still finding themselves unable to fall asleep. I’m curious as a starting point how you guide somebody through feeling more satisfied with sleep.
Sleep is a huge problem. I agree. First of all, sleep is extremely important. Sleep is important in terms of the efficiency and effectiveness of your brain, how distractible you are, how fragile you feel, and your mood state. It is something that needs to be solved and not something that needs to be taken lightly. It’s an extremely difficult issue to solve sometimes.
First, checking in on sleep hygiene is important. That means checking in on whether the person is doing everything they can do to boost melatonin to make sure that they’re not delaying melatonin production before they go to sleep. Things that delay melatonin production are looking at screens right up until bedtime. That delays melatonin production. It would be better to put all screens down an hour before you’re trying to go to sleep and instead read a book or listen to a book on an Alexa. You can listen to bedtime stories on an Alexa. I tend to recommend that. Putting down the screens is important.
Also, making sure that the room is very dark is important. There’s no sound. People have a particular sleep position. It is making sure that you know what your sleep position is, getting into your sleep position, and making sure you have a comfortable mattress and a comfortable pillow. You want to make sure that it’s as comfortable as it can be. The temperature in your room is very important because if the temperature is too hot or too cold, then you won’t fall asleep.
I also recommend that people keep a pen and paper by their bed because if you are falling asleep trying to think of all of the things that you need to do the next day, you will never go to sleep. It’s really important that you download all of the things that are running through your mind onto a piece of paper so that you don’t feel like you have to try to memorize them as you’re falling asleep.
If none of those things are working, then you need to try to look for alternatives. What other options are there to help you fall asleep, whether they are medical remedies or natural homeopathic remedies? There are a lot of natural homeopathic remedies that you can look for as helpful sleep options. There are also medical remedies that you can look for as sleep options. Whatever it is, they need to be explored because of the importance of sleep.
Speaking of natural remedies, that’s a great segue into how I was introduced to you. I heard from a PR representative from this company called Quiet Mind. I was very curious about anything sleep-related. I have a sleep disorder, I suppose, that I haven’t been able to get to the bottom of. I’ve spoken about this so much over the last few years. I’ve been trying to figure out this journey. Sometimes, trying to figure out your sleep issues can create a lot of anxiety. Oftentimes, anxiety is something that carries through the whole day. It’s not always related to sleep or health challenges.
I’ve also spoken about my journey of looking into neurodivergence and understanding things like ADHD and autism. There are a lot of different avenues that you can take with these things. One thing that became incredibly helpful for my sleep routine was a weighted blanket. I got one a few years ago. It’s so great. For me, that pressure on my body helps reduce anxiety. I feel comforted by it. I feel safer. My whole life, I’ve always liked heavy blankets on me. There would be times during the summer when it was too hot to use a heavy blanket but I’d still want one. When I learned about gravity products, I was like, “This is a game-changer.” That’s what Quiet Mind is.
When I heard about Dr. Jennifer, it was in this email about this weighted pillow. It’s not the traditional body pillow, which I also utilize. I sleep with a huge body pillow most of the time. Speaking of downsides, some of the things that help me sleep can be incredibly inconvenient, especially when I’m traveling. This Quiet Mind pillow is a small pillow. When I finally get the video up on YouTube, you can see the visual that I’m holding up.
It’s this size of your standard decorative pillow on a couch or something. It’s square. You can choose different weights. I chose to get a 12-pound weight because my weighted blanket at home is 15 pounds. I liked that heaviness, but I wanted to try something a little less heavy. Anyone who’s tried to carry around a weighted blanket away from their bed, their couch, or something knows how challenging that can be.
It’s not that 15 pounds is that much weight for most of us, but it’s awkward. The benefit of this little compact pillow is that it’s not awkward at all. When I got this in the mail, I thought, “That’s 12 pounds?” It feels so light to me. I got this not long ago. I’ve been using it in a variety of different ways. I wanted to bring this up with Dr. Jennifer because she’s on the Medical Advisory Board of Quiet Mind, correct?
I’m curious to hear from you. What drew you to get involved with this company? What benefits do you see from this? What makes something like this a nice tool or an option, alternative, or addition to things like a weighted blanket?
I love the weighted Quiet Mind pillow. I’m obsessed with it. When I was approached about being on the medical advisory board, I’ve been asked before to support different products and have always said no until this product. I am obsessed with this particular product for a few reasons. I love weighted products and I’ve always loved weighted products because of the value that they can produce for people. They can alleviate anxiety. They can alleviate stress. They can help people who are feeling distracted. They can help people unwind and do so many things, whether it’s when you’re at home or honestly even when you’re at work. They do this by making you feel more relaxed. You feel calmer. You can feel more grounded.
The weight of the pillow increases the neurotransmitters of dopamine, which we talked about earlier, and serotonin. Those neurotransmitters help boost your mood. They improve your mood. By improving your mood, they reduce feelings of anxiety and help you feel calmer. They also help by increasing the chemical melatonin in your brain. It is the chemical that helps you sleep, which we were also talking about earlier.
In that way, the pillow is compact. We were talking about its size. It’s a convenient pillow. You can move it from room to room. If you’re anxious and stressed, you could have it in your living room. That way, it can help you unwind. If you are having trouble sleeping, you can move it into the bedroom and it can help you sleep.
When I’m using it in the living room, I can lean it up against me and hold it against my body. I can also put it against my stomach and then hug it. If I’m bringing it into the bedroom, I’m a side sleeper so I can hug it when I’m side sleeping. If I happen to move on to my back, then I can put it on my stomach and I can hug it that way.
What I like about the pillow is that it is very huggable. It’s the perfect size to be a huggable pillow. Like you, my favorite is the smaller size. It comes in small, medium, and large sizes. I like the smaller one. My son picked a medium size because he likes the medium-sized pillow. I have found people to like different sizes of the pillow. One of the benefits of the pillow is that it comes in different sizes.
What drew me to the pillow over blankets, and I have never recommended to clients to purchase the blankets despite my love of gravity products, is because I have found them to be so cumbersome to move from room to room. I also have found them to be very unattractive. Although I saw that they are great products, I tend to not recommend to clients things that I wouldn’t want to have in my own home. When I saw this pillow, I felt like I was very comfortable having this pillow in my own house. It is a pillow that does look like a decorative pillow. You could put it on your couch. You could put it on your bed. It wouldn’t look to somebody like, “That’s a natural remedy pillow.” It doesn’t look like a natural remedy product.
Because of its unobtrusiveness, it doesn’t scream that a person is having problems with anxiety or that person is having problems with sleep. I appreciate that because our issues should be private unless we choose to make them public. That’s one of the things that I like about the pillow. You can’t tell. If you choose to make that known, that’s great, but if you choose not to, the pillow doesn’t scream that. Some of the blankets do scream that, and some of the other pillows do scream that. That was one of the things. The fact that it is something that you can move around, it is unobtrusive, and is an attractive pillow, all of those reasons were what attracted me so much to the Quiet Mind weighted pillow over all of the other gravity products.Our issues should be private unless we choose to make them public. Click To Tweet
You made so many great points that I feel excited to try it out. As of the time of this recording, I’ve only been using it for a few days. When I first got it, my initial reaction was that it was very nice looking. The color that I picked was a dark blue. It came in this beautiful box with this nice welcome note. The founder was telling the story of why he designed it. I thought, “This is cool.” I felt comforted immediately, but then, I’m like, “I don’t know how to use this,” because I’ve been using the blanket, for example. It’s a blanket. I put it on top of me and I felt the difference right away.
I have noticed that through the conversation about weighted blankets, some people don’t like them because they feel too heavy. They feel uncomfortable while they’re sleeping. They might only use a weighted blanket for an hour. Whereas someone like me, I want it on me all night long. That is so comfortable. Some people need that temporary pressure or relief, so the pillow is such a nice alternative.
I’m curious to hear more about how you can use it. When you were saying you would prop it up next to you, I’ve tried that and I wondered, “Is this doing anything?” There’s certainly a level of comfort because, like any pillow, it feels nice to layer against. I wouldn’t say this one I would want to prop my head on it, but when it’s next to me, I can feel the pressure. There’s a subtle difference between what is going on in the body and the mind by lying next to something like this.
How I do it is I go to the corner of my couch and lie it next to me so that the weight is on the side of my body. It is so that I feel the weight on the side of my body as I’m curled up on the couch. I feel the weight that way. I can either wrap my arm around it or feel the weight on the side of my body. I can close my eyes to unwind and try to experience the weight that way. If I want to open a book and read it while I’m experiencing the weight, I can do it that way.
Depending on the position that I put the pillow on my side as I’m curled up that way, I can feel a good amount of weight. That is relaxing in a way that I can feel the dopamine and the serotonin release. Is it as much as if I lay down on the couch and hugged it or sat up and hugged it? Maybe not as much. If you position the pillow in such a way, like how I’m doing when I am curled up on the side of the couch, I can feel the weight enough that it helps me unwind and helps me feel soothed and calmer.
When you’re talking about hugging, there might be a few different reactions. Many people know the benefits of hugging someone, although I would love to hear it from you. There is a certain amount of time when a hug can be beneficial. It’s not a quick acknowledgment of somebody, but hugging someone for a certain period of time releases dopamine. Is that correct?
It might release oxytocin also, so it’s good.
It’s releasing these chemicals. When I learned that, I was like, “I’m going to make a concerted effort to hug someone as long as they’ll let me before it becomes awkward.” It’s a very interesting thing to notice how you feel after a hug with a person. What’s cool about the pillow is that if you are somebody who maybe doesn’t have anyone in your life that you can hug or want to hug or it might not be accessible, having a pillow can create a similar release in your body, I’m assuming. Is that right?
Definitely. What’s good about the weighted pillow as opposed to a regular pillow is that the weight of the pillow mimics to the brain more of the feeling that you’re hugging someone. If you hug a regular pillow, because it gives so much, it doesn’t tease the brain into feeling like you’re hugging something. In that way, the weight helps in terms of getting the brain to release everything that it would mimic what you would get from a hug. The give on a regular pillow is too much, so the weight helps.
When you hug somebody, you get a little bit of give, but part of what you’re getting is the weight of the other person when you’re hugging them. That’s part of what you’re getting with the release. There’s a lot of research that hugging is good. Hugging the pillow would help. Hug it as long as you want. There’s nothing to say that you can hug the pillow too long. It is not like you can hug anything too long.
You said you sleep with a body pillow, which is great. When you’re sleeping with the body pillow, you’re hugging the body pillow until you move away from the body pillow. There’s nothing to say that hugging something for too long is ever too long. You can hug this weighted pillow for as long as you can hug it. It’s only doing good things for you.
While these might sound like simple tips, everything that you’ve been sharing is such a great reminder because not everybody feels comfortable discussing these things. As you were saying before, the benefit of a pillow that looks decorative is that it doesn’t draw attention to the reason that you have that pillow. There are benefits to something that’s a little bit more subtle.
There are also benefits to speaking about it very honestly as you have been in this episode to remind people that they have these tools available, that they don’t need to suffer in silence, and that they don’t need to put aside their needs. These are basic things for a lot of people. Sometimes, these are specialized things. There might be a specific reason that you want something. There’s also a ripple effect to discussing these and having tools around.
I’m curious to see with this pillow, for instance, will other people who see my pillow want to try it out. Is that creating a conversation about anxiety? Is that creating a conversation about pressure, hugging, and human touch? All of these things can start to evolve by doing something. You are not just helping yourself but hopefully others as well.
Before we bring the conversation to a close, I’d love to circle back and see if there are any other tools that we haven’t mentioned that can help somebody feel more satisfied. You did mention reading, for example. Is there anything we haven’t touched upon yet that you would like to serve as a reminder or offer something new for somebody to increase their satisfaction?
Since we spent a good amount of time talking about people-pleasing and inherent lovability, why don’t I offer a tool people can use to help them with that since I didn’t offer a tool related to that? How about if I do that?
That sounds great. I want to hear it.
One of the recommendations that I make for people in terms of people-pleasing is that all of us get requests to do things for people a lot of the time. We don’t know whether we have to assess whether we want to do the request that’s being made of us or we don’t want to do the request. Sometimes, we do. Sometimes, we don’t.
What I recommend to people is that you engage in what I call or have coined a resentment check-in. How you do a resentment check-in is that you ask yourself, “If what I’ve been asked to do will never be valued and will never be reciprocated by this person, do I want to do this thing? If I know that it will never be appreciated, will never be valued, and will never be reciprocated, do I still want to do this thing?”
You then do a body scan. When you do the body scan, you evaluate how you feel in your body when you ask yourself that question. Do you feel comfortable in your body or do you notice some kind of tension in your body, distress in your body, or anxiety in your body? If you notice any tension, anxiety, or distress in your body, then you might want to consider editing the request that’s being made of you, delegating the request that’s being made of you, or saying no to the request that’s being made of you.
In my book, I give lots of suggestions about mindful ways to say no to requests. However, if you do the body scan when you ask yourself the question and you don’t feel anything in your body and feel completely fine about it, then go ahead. Say yes to the request and move on until the next time that somebody makes requests of you, and then I recommend doing the same thing.
That is so helpful. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that framework before. It also sounds like a little obvious once you’re saying it. I used to check in and ask myself these questions. I love the idea of questioning why you’re doing something and then how you would feel based on these different outcomes.
That’s something that I’ve conceptualized for myself whenever I’m interacting with other people. What is the purpose for them and me? What am I giving and what am I receiving to make that reciprocal or get that balance that you talked about earlier? I also thought it was such a wonderful point about how balance might not seem that appealing. When you said that, it sounded so silly to me. I’m like, “Aren’t people craving balance? Isn’t that what people say they want?” Yet, we often live a life of unbalance. You want something but you’re not doing it. That has been a big part of this conversation.
It all ties into satisfaction. It’s all about asking yourself these important questions so that you can make the decisions that work best for you and not necessarily best for others. Sometimes, that’s going to be at odds. Sometimes, you do need to weigh out these things. I’m so grateful for the language you use, the questions you ask, and the tools you provide. It has been so helpful for me. I’m going to carry through a lot of this into my life including the Quiet Mind pillow, which I’m carrying around.
Before we go, I am curious. I meant to ask you this earlier about your own relationship with social media. Given everything you know, how do you approach social media? How do you find that balance in your life?
Nobody ever asks me that. That’s a good question. I don’t like social media. It is on brand for me not to like social media. As you mentioned before when you were talking about your business, the problem is that from a business perspective, social media is necessary. I needed to figure out how I was going to balance wanting to live my life according to my brand and also knowing that having social media was necessary.
How I manage that is I write the posts for my social media, and then I have somebody else who has all of the login and user information for my social media. I don’t even have it. They do the posting for social media. If there are questions about what needs to be responded to on social media, they will ask me about that and how I want to respond. In terms of knowing the information about followers, likes, or whatever, I have no idea about any of that. I keep all that noise out of my head. I don’t think that it would be helpful to me at all. That has helped me feel that I can be true to the brand. I focus more on what I’m putting up than how it’s being
That is a wonderful approach. I’ve often found for myself that having somebody else look at things like numbers, create that buffer, and know if there’s a comment or a post that you might not want to see, that support can play such a big role in navigating these terrains that can be a slippery slope. Thank you so much for addressing that and for all of your time exploring how we can go Beyond Happiness, which is the title of your book, to a life of more satisfaction, a life of more balance, and a life that involves checking in with yourself, asking the important questions, using language that serves you. It has been an absolute delight for me. Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you so much for having me. If anybody wants to find me, you can also find me on Instagram @Guttman_Psychology or on my website.
I’ll make it very easy to get in touch and take the next step with the book, the website, and the social media, which we know a little bit about behind the scenes. That will all be linked at Wellevatr.com. If you happen to be watching this on YouTube when it comes out, the same thing will be there. There will be a description with clickable links there so that you don’t have to go wandering around the episode or the internet to find this information. That’s all in one place right there within whatever platform you are tuning in to. Thanks again to the audience and thank you to Dr. Jennifer for joining us.
Thank you so much for having me.
- Dr. Jennifer Guttman
- Quiet Mind
- YouTube – This Might Get Uncomfortable
- Beyond Happiness
- @Guttman_Psychology – Instagram
About Dr. Jennifer Guttman
Dr. Jennifer Guttman received a doctorate in clinical psychology from Long Island University. In her debut book, BEYOND HAPPINESS, THE 6 SECRETS OF LIFETIME SATISFACTION she lays out a roadmap on how to move beyond happiness to achieve authentic life satisfaction by becoming more confident, self-empowered, self-reliant, and resilient. Dr. Guttman uses six strategies to empower people to gain control over their lives by focusing on an enduring mindset, not a transient feeling.
Dr. Guttman fuses traditional cognitive behavioral therapy with her own core methods, which she developed during her thirty-plus years of practice working with clients from diverse backgrounds. She encourages people to stop chasing something that is fleeting and focus on an attainable goal: sustainable satisfaction. She demonstrates how moving beyond happiness to contentment is achievable.
Over the past five years Dr. Guttman has launched a motivational brand platform Sustainable Life Satisfaction® with four SLS® YouTube web series which have cumulatively netted over two million views and published a workbook with the same title. She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today, Thrive Global, MindBodyGreen, and written in articles for the Washington Post, NBC.com, Readers Digest, Redbook, Health, TeenVogue, among others. Dr. Guttman has been a guest on over two dozen podcasts including “Unshakeable Self-Confidence,” “Harvesting Happiness,” “Resilience Unraveled” and “The Hidden Why.”
Dr. Guttman is a mother of two and resides in New York.